Black Students Expelled or Suspended at Higher Rates Than Whites

The trend was revealed in a U.S. Department of Education survey, which found rampant and unchecked racism and discrimination at the nation’s public schools. 

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Attorney General Eric Holder (left) and Education Secretary Arne Duncan during a visit to J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington, DC

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Public school students of color face punishment more often and have less access to skilled and experienced educators than their white counterparts, the Huffington Post reports, citing surveys released Friday by the U.S. Department of Education.

The surveys, which include data from every U.S. school district, shows that black students are suspended or expelled at three times the rate of their white peers, according the department’s 2011-12 Civil Rights Data Collection survey. The results are part of an ongoing survey conducted every two years by the department’s Office of Civil Rights. For the first time since 2000, the data include results from all 16,500 American school districts, representing 49 million students.

One finding shows that 16 percent of black students were suspended annually, compared to 5 percent of white students. In another, black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, far outstripping that of girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys.

The statistics also revealed that the least experienced teachers are charged with educating minority students. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers do not meet license and certification requirements. Meanwhile, at one in four school districts, teachers at predominantly white schools receive on average $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher percentages of black and Hispanic students.

It has long been known that "the soft bigotry of low expectations" hinders academic performance and puts minority students at a greater risk of becoming dropouts. Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, was supposed to ban school segregation and uphold the right to high-quality education for all children, but the new findings appear to frustrate the objectives of the ruling. The results also fly in the face of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed equal access to education.

"This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed."

Read more at the Huffington Post.